When the winter weather approaches, many people reach for their thermostat and turn the heat on. Little thought is given to whether the furnace exhaust system is ready to provide safe and effective service. According to the CDC, each year approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency room with accidental CO poisoning. Fortunately, regular chimney system inspection and maintenance can help prevent incidents like these.
FURNACES AND CARBON MONOXIDE
Causes of Gas Furnace Hazards
Today’s houses are more airtight. Many homeowners take extra precautions to seal up windows and doors in an effort to avoid high heating bills. This causes there to be less fresh air entering the home, and less opportunities for polluted air to leave the home. Because of this, furnaces and boilers are unable to burn fuels completely, due to the lack of oxygen present. This causes Carbon Monoxide to be produced.
New energy-efficient heating appliances can be problematic when vented into existing chimney flues, and often won’t perform at ideal levels. The performance discrepancy can also contribute to conditions that allow toxic gases to more easily enter living spaces.
Problems to avoid
While each oil or gas furnace produces different combustion by-products, due to their distinct burning characteristics, the chimneys and connector pipes that serve them share similar common problems. Both systems can be susceptible to weathering, animal invasions, rusting, and the accumulation of debris. This is why regular care and maintenance is crucial.
Oil Flues - require yearly cleanings and inspections due to the possibility of soot buildup on the interior wall of the chimney liner. The soot concentration depends upon furnace’s performance and whether the house provides sufficient air for combustion. Potential problems from soot buildup can be chimney fires, flue deterioration or even chimney blockages that direct toxic fumes back into the house and cause inefficient furnace operation.
Natural gas - can cause problems with today’s high-efficient gas furnaces. Natural gas produces fumes that are cooler and contain higher levels of water vapor, making them more likely to cause condensation than other models. Vapors also contain chlorides picked up from house-supplied combustion air, making the flues subject to more corrosive conditions.
The best way of preventing Carbon Monoxide poisoning is through annual heating system inspections and maintenance. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advocates for yearly home inspections and routine maintenance of home heating systems and chimneys, in order to minimize the threat of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
The Efficiency of a Well-Tuned Furnace
A well-tuned furnace or boiler when properly connected to a venting system or flue that is appropriately sized, structurally sound, clean and free of blockages, will operate efficiently and create a warm and comfortable home environment.
- A well-tuned environment burns up to 10% less natural gas
- Provide increase comfort
- Extend the life of your heating system
- Make your home feel safe